Sunday, April 19, 2009

  The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
   Like clouds they shape themselves and go.

  But in my spirit will I dwell,
And dream my dream, and hold it true;
For tho’ my lips may breathe adieu,
  I cannot think the thing farewell.

'In Memorium A.H.H'

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dolls poised on pretend floors, whispering.

Sometimes in waking I am taken to a place

Jolted by sound and transported to rushing water

As a baby on a sun-soaked rock

Tilting, little feet gripping

Waved hands, a one-fingered father's holding

Silent but for the tumult of waves.

I always told everyone that I was going to be an artist, and at seven I thought I could rediscover detail for everyone and become famous for bringing this awakening to the world. Details were new back then, because I realized that I could get lost in the things that nobody ever mentioned. Objects. Dust. Bricks. Ceiling cracks. Light spilling through windows. Scenes through an open door. Eyebrows. Individual blades of grass. Mantles and pictures framing faces of people I thought I knew. Tilting flowers. Garbage. All drawn very small because everybody else lived on without noticing they were there. I believed I could be a sort of hero by gathering lost images in my mind and penciling them in scenes of make-believe. Giving them a place in a perfect world. 

And I made up worlds for myself daily, getting lost in some for hours...literally becoming The Indian in the Cupboard, and Thumbelina for entertainment. I made villages of sticks and rocks and told myself stories. I walked alone across the shore of Lake Superior for hours just talking to myself, telling myself fantastic stories about lost heroes and wild animals in the night. I went alone to our dark basement and paced the floor as I bounced a little ball against the walls and told myself story after story out loud...Each one drenched with details about mother’s raising their coffee cup to their lips and feelings exposed in father’s eyes, and fences and dialogue and secret compartments filled with wonder and antiquity. I just wanted to be alone, and to ruminate on little things that my characters did. The way they walked. Opened a mailbox. Entered a crowded room. Reacted with silence. Always silence: Birds on power lines. Wind across the sand. Sunlight in an empty bedroom...spilling across furniture in a dollhouse and the blank faces of dolls poised on pretend floors, whispering. 

Years went by, and I couldn’t grow out of it. 12, 15, 17, 18, 19....The desire to make up stories became embarrassing. Now I am careful to admit that I can’t do anything repetitive without forgetting that I am actually in my life. I cannot brush my teeth without becoming some fantastic character in peril. When I try to change my sheets, I automatically start thinking about an undiscovered place and every detail to describe it. When I walk, when I load the dishwasher, when I doodle trees and vacuum rugs I am having another dialogue between two people in another world far away. 

I hate pulling myself up out of a poem and the webs of words I weave for places I wish I could really know.